Spy Agency Mined Vast Data Trove, Officials Report - New York TimesI'm sure most journalists had the same thoughts I had, but of course they actually have to gather evidence. They moved very quickly to put this story together.
The National Security Agency has traced and analyzed large volumes of telephone and Internet communications flowing into and out of the United States as part of the eavesdropping program that President Bush approved after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks to hunt for evidence of terrorist activity, according to current and former government officials.
The volume of information harvested from telecommunication data and voice networks, without court-approved warrants, is much larger than the White House has acknowledged, the officials said. It was collected by tapping directly into some of the American telecommunication system's main arteries, they said.
This is oddly reassuring -- because it makes sense. The "bypass FISA" story didn't hold water if the NSA was indeed targeting individuals. Echelon-style monitoring of all traffic, however, cannot be approved under existing law. It required an executive order.
The great thing about the Bushies is that they make conspiracy theories real, and whacky delusions almost plausible. The Patriot II debate this January should be quite interesting.